Taffeta (archaically spelled taffety or taffata) is a crisp, smooth, plain woven fabric made from silk, cuprammonium rayons, acetate, and polyester. The word is Persian (تافته) in origin and means "twisted woven". As clothing, it is used in ball gowns, wedding dresses, and corsets, and in interior decoration for curtains or wallcovering. It tends to yield a stiff, starched-like cloth that holds its shape better than many other fabrics and does not sag or drape.
Silk taffeta is of two types: yarn-dyed and piece-dyed. Piece-dyed taffeta is often used in linings and is quite soft. Yarn-dyed taffeta is much stiffer and is often used in evening dresses. Shot silk taffeta was one of the most highly sought forms of Byzantine silk, and may have been the fabric known as purpura.
Modern taffeta was first woven in Italy and France and until the 1950s in Japan. Warp-printed taffeta or chiné, mainly made in France from the 18th century onwards, is sometimes called "pompadour taffeta" after Madame de Pompadour. Today most raw silk taffeta is produced in India and Pakistan. There, even in the modern period, handlooms were widely used, but since the 1990s it has been produced on mechanical looms in the Bangalore area. From the 1970s until the 1990s, the Jiangsu province of China produced fine silk taffetas: these were less flexible than those from Indian mills, however, which continue to dominate production. Other countries in South-East and Western Asia also produce silk taffeta, but these products tend not yet to be equal in quality or competitiveness to those from India.
Taffeta has seen use for purposes other than clothing fabric, including the following: